Happy birthday, Nathan: I, too, can't believe you're 31


Reggie ponder lifestyles chowan herald


By Reggie Ponder

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Our son Nathan turned 31 Tuesday.

It’s hard to believe he’s that old. I had a couple of friends who have known Nathan since he was born, or nearly that long, comment this week that they were having trouble comprehending that he could be 31.

One friend recalled that he was 12 at her wedding. She said she couldn’t believe he’s now 31.

Come to think of it I’m having a hard time believing that wedding was 19 years ago.

But so it goes.

Lots of folks have wished Nathan a happy birthday and I really appreciate that. Church members, people we know from the community, and people we haven’t seen in more than 15 years all weighed in with birthday wishes.

I’m feeling very thankful for that and Nathan had a blast on his birthday.

It has been quite a journey with Nathan. For the first six years of his life we struggled together to understand why he wasn’t talking, wasn’t walking, wasn’t even crawling until he was nearly 2. Over time we began to learn more and understand more but still were confused more often than not.

We did all sorts of tests at Duke Medical Center (which was fairly convenient because we were living in the Durham area at the time) and still remained baffled.

When he was 6 he was identified as “autistic,” which was helpful in that it explained some things we had never understood, gave us more background regarding some things we did understand, and provided something of a road map forward.

By that time Nathan had learned to walk and talk. That was a relief because a number of doctors and other professionals had predicted he would likely not do either one.

One day when he was 5 he finally went from not saying any intelligible words to uttering an entire phrase: “newspaper office.”

Understanding and communicating with Nathan can still be a challenge sometimes, but it’s always worth it. He comes up with surprising and interesting observations. No two days are anything near the same.

He enjoys music, food and hiking. He loves going to church. He loves his family and makes friends with just about everyone he meets.

We’re thankful for him. Nothing in our lives has turned out quite the way we expected but we always find there are joys if we are ready to receive them.

Reggie Ponder is a staff writer at The Daily Advance.